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  • Writer's pictureTeam CargoTalk

Secure ferrying of dangerous goods and perishables

The aviation industry is constantly changing. In such a situation, safety regulations and transportation of hazardous material constantly develop to keep pace with the evolving industry. The transfer of dangerous and perishable products requires skill and time management. CARGOTALK finds out more about this specific aspect of cargo movement.

- Abigail Mathias

John O’Grady, Manager, Authorisations and Standards, Operations and Delivery, Etihad Cargo

Etihad Cargo ensures perishables and live animals are transported efficiently and safely via our premium product range. If conditions are not monitored and controlled, it can result in reducing the shelf-life or cause loss of the product.

We mitigate these risks via specialized products. FreshForward is dedicated to the transportation of perishables, including fresh food and flowers. Etihad Cargo transports live animals across its global network via our LiveAnimals product, and SkyStables is dedicated to the transportation of horses.

With ferrying perishables come many challenges. For example, variable environmental temperature, a challenge given the high temperatures in the UAE are critical factors. We ferry perishables such as fruits, vegetables, seafood, flowers, plants, meat, chocolates, herbs, spices, eggs, cheese, and dairy with the carrier’s premium product FreshForward.

Some of the features of FreshForward include ramp handling of arrivals and departures, priority dispatch from storage facilities to the aircraft, an upgraded perishables center in Abu Dhabi, temperature-controlled storage facilities, shipments shifted from the aircraft to the storage facilities are done on priority, and contingency procedures implemented to mitigate the risk of operational failures and temperature excursions. We follow strict food safety management protocols with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point methodology.

Trained staff are must to maintain the quality of perishables in the journey. Etihad Cargo’s cool rooms are equipped with alarmed temperature-monitoring systems and are calibrated on a regular basis.

The objective is to offer our clients’ transparency and traceability of shipments. The cargo airlines commitment to ensuring world-class perishables transportation service is why we were given IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Fresh certification.

We are the first Middle Eastern airline to hold both IATA CEIV Fresh and Pharma certifications in 2019 and one of the only two globally. Being IATA CEIV Fresh-certified demonstrates our compliance with the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations, ensuring food safety, reducing waste, reinforcing trust in partnership with our customers to implement best practices across all required cold chain solutions.

The CEIV Fresh Certification extends to cargo handling and warehousing at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). With a multi-phased cargo infra development strategy in place, we are committed to developing a Cool Chain Centre of Excellence at the UAE hub.

IATA CEIV Fresh certification gives our customers’ confidence that our commercial activities and ops adhere to the highest standards. They can trust our FreshForward product, which provides fast, simple and efficient features they need from their air cargo partner of choice.

Live animals

Live animals are among the most difficult to transport. Each animal has its own specific needs. To transport them, Etihad Cargo’s operators ensure the animals are cared for and looked after so that they are kept safe and healthy during the journey.

We do this through our dedicated CEIV IATA Live Animals-certified LiveAnimals and SkyStables products. In 2022, we became the first ME airline and only the third globally to hold IATA’s CEIV Live Animals, CEIV Fresh and CEIV Pharma certifications. The certification was awarded following an IATA-led assessment of Etihad Cargo’s dedicated product, LiveAnimals, for animal transportation, and SkyStables, for equine transportation, and our logistics’ audit checklist to ensure compliance with standards, and the IATA Live Animals Regulations.

The benefits of the certification include improving animal welfare, safety through quality and risk management and enhancing professionalism in handling and shifting live animals in a multimodal environment. The certification enforces compliance with the IATA LAR, elevating staff competency through efficient and robust training programs and enabling collaboration among stakeholders and certified trade lanes.

To ensure the safest treatment of animals entrusted to Ertihad Cargo’s care, we have trained staff to guarantee all processes are in line with global regulatory requirements. To ensure conditions meet the needs of the live animals, Etihad Cargo offers climate-controlled and pressurised compartments to provide comfort in the hold, and we have temperature-controlled vehicles available to ferry animals.

Since all of Etihad Airways fleet in flight is ventilated and temperature-controlled, we ensure the Notification To Captain has been created, so that the right temperature has been set for the journey before departures.

Vijan Chetty, CCA Board Director and General Manager, PPECB

The recent cut flower trials in South Africa reflected some of the challenges experienced in the value chain. These challenges are not exclusive to South Africa, but are related across the globe. Any disruption experienced during post-harvest handling processes and the cooling and transportation of the product will reduce its shelf life.

All aspects of the trade lane from farm to fork needs to be evaluated, including packaging, effectiveness of cooling and disruption in the cool chain during various modes of transportation and handling processes. The loading and offloading processes, while unloading and loading on to the aircraft, shows spikes in temperature.

The aircraft utilizes a common temperature range that will accommodate all products, goods and animals stored within the compartment. Perishable products must be stored, handled, and transported in a manner that will minimize temperature fluctuations, which will increase product respiration and have a negative impact on the products’ shelf life.

The post-harvest handling processes must be conducted quickly, and the product placed under cooling. Care must be taken not to have the products stored or ferried in sunlight. Care must be taken to ensure it is not placed under conditions wherein it comes under stress.

The products must be ferried quickly to the airport and the cooling trucks must be set at the correct temperatures. The handling of the product during the loading process needs to be reviewed as the time, temperature, tolerance exceeds during this process. Perishables cannot be handled in the same manner as non-perishable items.

The increase in respiration rates will result in a reduced shelf life and potential food loss and waste. There is a need for handlers to be trained and made aware of best handling processes.

Joanna Rizou, Aviation Professional/ICF Transformational Coach and Corporate Trainer

Airlines, which ferry perishables in EU, must comply with norms to ensure the safety and quality of the goods. These rules are established by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and enforced by the national aviation authorities.

Apart from the special handling process of perishable cargo to ensure goods remain fresh, the authorities focus on the packaging materials and respective containers that can maintain the suitable temperature and humidity. Audits are extended to the perishable cargo centers. Perishables may be subject to rules related to health and safety, food safety, and customs.

Animals in hold

While transporting AVIH on airlines, it is vital to follow norms to ensure the safety the animal. IATA set these rules. They are designed to ensure the animals are cared for that minimizes discomfort to them.

Today airports are well equipped and animal lounges ensure the wellbeing of animals on arrival/departure or during transit. As per IATA, airline staff are trained in Live Animal Regulations to ensure all documents, permits cage size, and approvals are available.

It is vital to know that under EU norms, the airlines comply with strict standards during handling and transport. Failure to comply with these standards can result in penalties, which may include heavy fines, legal actions, and reputational damage.

Agam Garg, General Manager, Yango Delivery

Attention must be paid to perishables at every step in the last mile fulfilment chain. At the distribution facility, care must be taken to ensure handling and sorting, shelving, and packaging—all within a temperature-controlled environment.

The vehicles used to ferry the perishables must have the right temperature-controlled environment too, be it refrigeration, or the facility to keep the products such as fresh. These temperature-sensitive vehicles should have sensors relaying information in real-time if any issues arise with the heating/cooling systems before the products are damaged.

During transport, it is vital incompatible goods are not mixed: for example, placing products that need to be maintained at room temperature next to a product that is hot. When it comes to transport of perishables, delivery to the end customer becomes quite nuanced as these products cannot be left outside their homes or offices for hours together.

Processes must be in place to inform the customers of the exact time of delivery, care of the product so as to ensure its quality must be clearly communicated or enunciated to the customer. In the recent years, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made it possible for the fleet constraints and road conditions among others to help that deliveries be made in the shortest possible time or on the same day.

There are specific trainings and certifications that professionals need to undergo, while managing perishable goods. To cite an instance, the HACCP is an internationally recognized standard that outlines the requirements for the monitoring and control of food safety and ensures that the delivery professionals conform to the best practices, while transporting cargo.

Saurabh Bhalla, Managing Director, Air and Sea Logistics

Regulatory Compliance: One of the major challenges is adhering to the norms related to handling, transportation, and storage of perishables. This can be complex and time-consuming and requires specialized knowledge and training.

Safety: Dangerous goods, chemicals, and live animals require special handling and transportation to ensure safety of both people and the environment. Since the risk of incidents is high, all safety protocols must be strictly adhered to.

Temperature control: Perishables, such as food and pharma, require temperature control during transportation to prevent damage. This can be challenging, especially during long-haul transportation, involving modes of transportation and varying temperature conditions.

Supply chain visibility: Maintaining supply chain visibility and tracking the movement of goods is critical to ensure timely delivery, prevent theft or loss, and comply with rules. However, this process can be difficult, while dealing with multiple parties involved in the transportation and storage of these goods.

Infrastructure: In some cases, the infrastructure required to handle and transport these goods may be outdated. This can include issues such as poor storage facilities, options of limited transportation and access to special equipment.

Cost: Transporting and storing dangerous goods, perishables, live animals, and chemicals can be expensive. It required special equipment and handling. This can make it difficult to maintain profitability, especially for small businesses.

Glyn Hughes, Director General, TIACA

For air cargo to work effectively, all parties in the supply chain must work together and share data to ensure high quality movements. This is critical when it comes to ferrying dangerous goods and perishables. It starts with clear and workable regulations, which are developed by International Civil Aviation Organization.

Perishables fall under state licensing and regulatory authorities focusing on health, certification, and regulations. The key factor in the safe, secure, and compliant transport of these sensitive commodities is people.

Training is critical to ensure everyone is aware and conversant with the various applicable needs. With data being used to notify upstream partners of the incoming commodities, we can unite to ensure products are delivered in the same condition as originally received.

The movement of dangerous goods is curbed to ensure defined quantities of approved products can fly on aircraft. Different standards apply to passenger and freighter, recognizing the safety support systems in place.

There are regulations that govern packaging, documentation. In case of lithium batteries, the level to which they may be charged when tendered for transport should be limited. However, there is a concern that has grown of late, which relates to counterfeiting and smuggling.

As the international demand for portable electronics rises, there has been a growth in the global counterfeit market for lithium batteries.

The concern for the supply chain is worse: these counterfeit products are not shipped in compliance with global standards, in most cases they are smuggled. They could be hidden inside toys. This places a risk on the supply chain and these fakes have also caused fires. the TIACA has called upon the governments to unite to tackle this international issue.

Aase Omoluabi, Manager Security and Compliance, Etihad Cargo

To manage the risks associated with transporting dangerous goods, Etihad Cargo focuses on three main elements, which are safety, compliance, and training.

To ensure the process remains safe and secure, Etihad Cargo has reviewed every product classification and placed additional handling requirements or embargoes on the carriage of specific dangerous goods.

These include, explosives, and radioactive materials, which require approvals before being cleared for transportation. Our compliance monitoring programs are critical to the transportation of dangerous goods. This is part of our robust safety management program, which leads to the development of proactive safety measures.

As the transportation of dangerous goods can be a technical subject, Etihad Cargo has a dedicated dangerous goods team. This team has six trained persons for handling dangerous goods, providing 24x7 support to ground and cargo teams.

To make the booking of dangerous goods efficient, Etihad Cargo has recently enhanced its booking portal capabilities to enable booking of dangerous goods online. Once the documentation checks are completed, the bookings are confirmed.

To accept dangerous goods, we ensure that checks are made on the cargo. This includes checking the packaging and ensuring segregation of the cargo so that it can be ferried safely. We encourage our handling agents to use IATA’s automated AI-powered check tool to check goods, prior to acceptance.

Shonak Reshamwala, Executive Director, Defcon ISC Limited

The challenge with perishable products is availability of proper facilities to their origin and destination and they are best resolved by working and training with all the stakeholders from who hand-over the material to the particular freight forwarder or airline to transport the goods.

Today, there are products that are not chemical based and which extend the life of the produce, but the information of the said products do not reach the right people due to information constraints, costs of wastage/discard is more economical/bearable as compared to the introduction of life extending technology.

Katherine Ayre, Chair, BLG National Aviation, Canada

When it comes to perishables, one tends to think of only food items. However, there are a lot of medical supplies that fall in this category. We have isotopes, blood and organs and healthcare delivery, which come perishables.

In Canada, we have a national healthcare system, which links remote and indigenous communities having a rugged terrain. Canada is a massive country and getting supplies to these regions can be tough. The challenge is in a safe and incremental adoption of regulatory processes and infra for the delivery.

So, we have got traditional aviation that can service these markets. Training for these jobs is tremendous. Of late, we are talking about pilot shortage, but with advancements in technology, we can tackle this problem.

We are seeing more women and people of different ethnicities take up different roles in the industry. Training to work in remote areas is also important while trying to get these good to remote places. We have pilots who are trained to fly in such conditions.

Milad Seif, Director, Freight Forwarding, Momentum Logistics

The transportation of dangerous goods, perishable items, live animals, and chemicals, lithium batteries present various challenges that require careful planning and execution. Sone of the significant challenges include:

Safety: Safety of people, assets and property and the community have been accorded top priority while transporting dangerous goods, chemicals, and live animals. Specialized equipment and handling processes are required to ensure that the products are transported safely and are not a risk to anyone.

Compliance: Transportation of the dangerous goods, chemicals, and live animals is a subject to numerous regulations. It is essential to comply with these regulations in order to avoid legal and financial consequences.

Packing and documentation: Dangerous goods, chemicals, and live animals require specialized packing that can withstand rigors of transportation and protect the products from damage or contamination. The documentation set is important for the logistics chain since the said authorities must be informed about the nature of the particular goods.

Lee Sangyoung, General Manager, Business Development, Nabla Mobility

In my opinion, it is important to support everyone in the transportation of medicines and sensitive items. When you use aviation, airports, the destinations may not have the equal quality of cold chain facilities.

I am concerned with how we can unify the quality of the goods. In this process, it is quite important to maintain perishable products from the origin destination to the end point. There are many differences in airports; there are also mid-size airports whose capabilities and funds are different. For major hubs they already do.

As a person who provides services for flight operations it is quite different from ground handling operations. There are not too many trained people in this market. That may be a huge challenge for this field.

Rohit Sehgal, Director, Skyways Group

In late 2018, we realized the potential of dangerous goods movement and temperature sensitive goods by air freight, so we created top class storage and transportation facilities, which needs specialized skills and compliance certifications.

Our AEO and GDP certifications in 2019 were a blessing in disguise during COVID, which gave us a platform to perform effortlessly. D-Tox provides end-to-end services to handle toxic and hazardous goods by trained people.

This team ensures correct handling, storage and transportation of dangerous goods certified in this category by IATA. While the goods are in transit warehouses, we notify the customer to make proper arrangements for making consignment ‘Ready for Carriage’.

Marcus Fornell, Director, Warehousing Solutions, Rhenus Logistics India Pvt. Ltd.

Rhenus India has 31 fully complaint and certified warehouses, with an international standard of EHS. Our warehouses have a latest infrastructure such as PEB stable building structure to withstand earthquakes, situated far away from residential areas. The team handling hazardous chemicals is trained to handle and store them.

Hazard identification and risk assessment is done regularly. Emergency Response Plan and Incident Reporting Systems are in place to manage any possible mishaps. MSDS of each product is studied and reviewed before it comes into our warehouse. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) help to ensure efficient and safe operations along with improved overall controls on day to day basis.

Ronak Shah, Executive Director, V-Trans India Ltd, CEO V-Logis

To solve gaps in warehousing and storage, V-Logis has designed a best-in-class chemical warehouse that provides probably the safest and secure supply chain services, including warehousing, inventory management, and apt storage of Haz-Chem.

ChemStore, ther warehourse, has a surface area of 2,18,350 square feet. Storing hazardous chemicals include proper container selection, storage location, segregation and separation, storage temperature, spill containment and emergency response, personnel training and safety, and regular inspections and maintenance, among others.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain, Robotics, and automation play an important role in ensuring safety and security in the warehouse. There is also a tie-up with a nearby hospital and an ambulance service to provide help in case of incidents/accidents.


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